Friday, 25 March 2016

FRIDAY NIGHT NEWS - Spring Projects and Summer Festivals

Well blimey O’Reilly!* I’ve been having a right old busy couple of weeks! I’ve been up and down the country doing workshops in Schools (well, one workshop in one school) and I’ve been doing a lot of exciting organisational planning stuff too!

(I realise that ‘organisational planning stuff’ doesn’t sound *that* interesting but, if we’re lucky, the organisational planning stuff will lead to exciting events and opportunities!)

So that’s all good.

I had a nice day out last Thursday when I went down to Kimbolton School in Huntingdonshire, to facilitate a poetry workshop with their sixth form students. We played around with a series of exercises, writing loads of poems using ourselves as the inspiration. I even had the Head of English taking part, which was both excellent fun and ridiculously daunting!

My favourite exercise that we did was a new one that I’ve just started using in my workshops. It’s a small warm-up game, where you ask the participants to get into pairs, and interview each other about their likes and dislikes. The participants then use this information to write a haiku based on their partner.

The results were really funny and/or insightful so, I’m definitely going to do this exercise again with other school groups!

I always try to take part in the exercises alongside the students whenever I do these kind of workshops, but unfortunately, I didn’t have a partner for my haiku. So – being the incredible narcissist that I am – I wrote one about myself:

Leanne writes poems.
Some of them are good but not
this one. I'm sorry.

I am just as disappointed as you are. But the students produced a huge number of really great pieces of writing, so obviously I will take full credit for that!

In other news, I’ve been organising the FENLAND POET LAUREATE AWARDS over the last couple of months, which are happening on Friday 8th April at March Town Hall in Cambridgeshire.

Last year's finalists for the 10-17 year old category

I’ve been involved in the Fenland Poet Laureate Programme since 2013, and I’ve been helping to curate the competition and the awards ceremony since 2014. This time around, we have a grant from Market Place, via Arts Council England's Creative People and Places Initiative - which is *so* wonderful because it means we'll actually be able to pay our judges and our headline act!

Who is our headliner? (I hear you cry.) Well, it's only blumming John Lyons! And we’ll have performances from our twenty shortlisted poets, plus some excellent live music, and we’ll be announcing the winners of this year’s Fenland Poet Laureate and Young Fenland Poet Laureate Awards on the night too! 

If you fancy coming along to see the show, you can buy your tickets in advance! They're £3 each – which is an absolute bargain, considering we have an internationally-renowned headline! You can grab your tickets via the ADeC website here.

I’m also speaking to the organisers at the Southwell Folk Festival about a possible poetry stage at the event! Which is very exciting indeed! If we manage to get it all off the ground, it will be my first ever go at producing a stage at a festival, so that’ll be a laugh! Watch this space for further details on that one!

As well as that, I’ve been chatting to the staff at the Museum of Cambridge about a possible collaboration for their Summer Half Term. At the moment, this is just an idea that I’ve pitched to them but, if they take it up, I reckon it’ll be a really fun project to work on!

I’ve also been getting a slow and steady trickle of offers for festival performances this year. Doing poems for a festival crowd is one of my all-time favourite things, and I’m lucky to have been asked to do a couple of new places this year, as well as a sprinkling of invites to return to a few of my very most favourite music and literary festivals too!

Festivals are cool (even in grey drizzly British Weather!)

In fact, I’d probably better go up to the loft and dig out my wellies!

*I am trying to bring ‘Blimey O’Reilly’ back as a phrase. 
I’m not sure if it’s working yet...

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